Sunday, April 7, 2013

Catching Up...Just to say Goodbye

Catching Up...Just to say Goodbye....But I am starting a new blog AcuDoc's Excellent YOSEMITE Adventure at

Here are a couple sneek previews of what is to come...

Sentinal Rock and the Merced River

Half Dome

A Yosemite Falls "Moonbow"
This picture was taken at 1am. The light from the full moon
casts a "moonbow" in the mist of the waterfall.
This only happens a few times a years when everything is just right

I am no longer working for Steiner and have not been on ships for a few months. I personally enjoyed my time as an “Acupuncturist at Sea” but for me it was time to move on. I want to thank Stephanie, Lisa, Natasha and Dan for everything they did for me over my three contracts. They treated me with respect and I cannot say enough about my respect for them.

Before I get I want to plug my NEW blog, which I will be starting within the week. It will be called AcuDoc Excellent YOSEMITE Adventure at I have moved to Yosemite National Park to work on my photograph and take a much needed rest. It is a very different lifestyle. No one is asking me what “my numbers are”, “how many patients did you book”, “how many packages did you sell”, “how much is your retail”. It is virtually stress free. In fact my most stressful decision is what hike am I going to go on. It is what I need at this time in my life. Will I ever go back to ships…maybe but for now this is where I need to be for “me” right now.

As far as ships I have heard from friends that are still working for Steiner and there have been some MAJOR changes. For the most part from what I have been told has to do with pay. It has been cut in half from what it was when I was on board. I know some of my friends that have left Steiner because of this.

So one thing you are going to have to do is make a determination for yourself if it is worth it to you. After looking at the numbers and looking at what I considered my bottom line I felt comfortable with being a $5000 cruise, $4000 service and $1000 retail, it would mean an hourly wage of $14-$15 per hour. Now remember that you have free room and board and great travel. So it is up to you and if you think it is worth it for yourself. It is your decision alone.

What I want to do with this post is make brief comments about where I have been over my last contract. I will post photographs of where I have been and make some suggestions on what to do in those ports.

If this is your first time to my blog by looking back you will find plenty of answers to probably any question you have about what it is like to work on a ship as an acupuncturist. Just remember the pay is different now. 

So lets get started…

I left off in Vietnam where I traveled and had some shipmates meet my when I was on vacation and the ship was in dry dock. Vietnam was amazing and I’d love to go back. There are some ships that do travel there but this was a three-week vacation and I really got to see the country much more then I would have if I were just in port for a day.

As I said this post is going to be mostly photography. In Vietnam I spent time in Hanoi, Cat Ba Island and Viet Hai, Nha Trang, Saigon and in Ben Tre in the Mekong Delta.

I really enjoyed the sights and sounds of Hanoi and there is much to see and do as you have seen in my last post....and yes I know it was a year

But here are some photos of the "Hanoi Hilton" that held American prisoners during the Vietnam War

Outside the entrance to the prison

The top of the walls were laden with broken glass and broken bottles to keep you from escaping

One of the passage ways

The flight suit John McCain was wearing when he was captured
is proudly displayed behind glass

a bed inside one of the cells

the shackles inside one of the cells

Cat Ba Island is a two hour bus ride to a boat that takes you a few miles of shore to the island. David, Maureen and Jessica stayed on the main island and took and over night excursion on a junk.

David, Maureen, Jessica and I arrive at Cat Ba Island

The next order of business...lunch

After which we located a hotel right on the main street, several floors up with a view of the harbor and ocean for $6 per night. David, Maureen and Jessica stayed tehre and I headed out to a remote isalnd...I mean a further remote island...

This is the small boat I took to Viet Hai about 2 hours from Cat Ba Isalnd

I took a very small boat on an hour boat ride to another smaller island and to the village of Viet Hai. I stayed at the Whisper of Nature for a few days and found the people to be amazing.

Along the way we passed village after village that is groups of floating houses where peolpe live

Here a man relaxes and plays his guitar

After a 4 mile scooter ride I arrive at the outskirts of Viet Hai

Viet Hai is a small farming village nestled in the jungles and mountains

The people here use very simple means for everyday life

At the far end of the village lies The Whisper of Nature where I stayed for $25 per night

Here is where they made excellent meals and I found the best internet since I left the states...better then
New Zealand, better then in the jungles of Vietnam miles offshore of the mainland...

At one point I took a hike a few miles back into the jungle and found a deserted village. There was nothing there but a horse and a man taking care of it from what I could tell.

Amazing miles into the jungle in an abandoned village I find an old Coca-cola cooler...

Goodbye "Whisper"...Goodbye Viet Hai...note the Communist Flag!

Next we headed to Nha Trang, which boasts the best beaches in Vietnam. There we enjoyed dinner with the locals and walking the streets seeing the sights. We ate at a number of different restaurants from where the locals ate to a German restaurant serving some of the favorites of Maureen as she was from Europe.

We visited the local market where David was a standout and many wanted to take pictures with him. They were amazing but his height of 6’6” and he looked like a giant next to them.

David and a local "fan" at the market in Nha Trang

A favorite shot at the market

One thing that surprised me was everywhere we went people were
so friendly and flashed the "peace sign"

photo oppertunities were everywhere at the market

a woman soldier at the market

We spent an amazing few hours at the “mud bath and spa”. You could spend all day there is you like. They had a number of different mud baths to try. We opted for the personal tubs and then joined each other in a giant mineral spring tub, stood under a waterfall and swam in the pool. Next we decided it was time for a massage. This ran us less then $30 for EVERYTHING.

The single mud bath tubs...they reminded me of the tubs you see in old westerns

Maureen and David went scuba diving and Maureen got certified. One of those days Jessica and I went kayaking on a river deep in the countryside.

Jesscia and I relaxing on the river in our kayak

In the middle of the trip our guides stopped, setup and cooked an amazing lunch

Jessica relaxes on the river after lunch

On another day I hired the owner of the hotel to take me on a motorcycle ride. We left around 8am and returned around 5pm. We traveled about 50 miles deep into the country and to villages that have not seen a foreigner for years. It was a great day trip and I snapped away taking photos everywhere.

A baker making bread miles from Nha Trang in a small village

Even further inland we came across a lone house in a field...
you got to love the look on the kids...

A great shot of the father

A woman rides her bike through the countryside...

The next stop on my inland trip was a fish are a few of the sights

Here are some of the other sights of Nha Trang

The view from my hotel balcony...$17 per night and right across the street from the beach

Nha Trang Bay on a walk to town

Dinner with the locals on our first night...note the size of the chairs...

A couple nights later enjoys wine and beer...desert was on the way...

Goodbye Nha was great...

Our next stop was Saigon. It is like a huge version of Hanoi. Even though there was a lot of history there and much to see I think we all decided that it would be a good jump of point for travel to the Mekong Delta. After a couple days we had our fill of Saigon. This is also where David left us and headed back to the ship as his vacation was over.

Dinner in Saigon our first night

The Presidential Palace and the headquarters for
South Vietnam during the Vietnam War

The Notre Dame Church in downtown Saigon

Inside on of the many temples

Jessica and Maureen at the Post Office...note "Uncle Ho" in the painting on the rear wall

A tank at the War Museum

Tiger cages used to hold American prisoners of war at the War Museum

Some of the sights on the streets of Saigon

David and Jessica make a new friend

Beers at midnight on the streets of Saigon the night before David heads
back to the ship and Jessica, Maureen and I head to the Mekong Delta...

We visited Ben Tre in the Mekong Delta and it was one of our favorite places. We stayed at the Oasis Hotel, which is on the banks of the Mekong River. It was very clean, had a pool, Wi-Fi and hammocks to just be lazy in.

Jessica and Maureen relaxing at the Oasis Hotel on the banks of the Mekong River in Ben Tre

Just a few minutes from the hotel down a small path was a local place to eat. The food was amazing and the entire meal for all of us including drinks ran around $12-$13 total.

Our first lunch in Ben Tre...

The town in our area was just a short walk and had a market, stores and a restaurant. The town it self was bigger but we found no need to see more then the local area.

Visiting the market in Ben Tre

Street scenes in Ben Tre

Girl street vendor

One day we hired a boat and guide to see the sights. We travel on the Mekong to a brick factory and then headed down the small inner canals.

Brick boat on the Mekong River

We hired a guide to take us deep in the canals of the Mekong Delta

There we visited a coconut candy factory, a coconut factory and a home-stay deep in the jungle where we had lunch “local” style. There we transferred into a canoe that just barely held the three of the guide and us and headed even deeper into the Mekong Delta.

Were arrived at a coconut factory deep in the Mekong

Jessica and Maureen enjopy fresh coconut milk

The next stop was a coconut candy factory...

...where everything is done by hand

Maureen and Jessica enoy a typical lunch at a home stay
deep in the inner canals of the Mekong Delta

Maureen looks at the whole fried fish for lunch...the food just kept coming

Goodbye to the Mekong Delta...what a fantastic place to visit...

After our stay in Ben Tre it was back to Saigon for an over night as we got ready to say good bye to each other as we were all headed to different areas of the world. Maureen was headed back home to Europe, Jessica was headed to meet some of our other friends in Thailand and I was headed to the Philippine to meet some friends from the states that have family there.

The next day I flew to the Philippines and ended up with one of my oldest friends, Dean Sberna and his family that were on vacation at Apo Island, which is a resort off the coast of Negros Island.

The Sberna relaxing at Apo Island

We spent a few days at the Liberty Resort which was a great place to relax.

The Liberty Resort, Apo Island

I got a chance to take some pictures of the "locals" and here are a couple of my favorites

You have to love the look of innocence in children

And the character of this older mans face....

Next it was time to for myself to relax on my last night in Apo Island

Then it was time for them to visit family and I needed some time to myself. After ship life where you have no privacy and then even though I love my friends I needed “down time” before heading back to the ship.

I stayed at a place the Dean suggested called Monarch Resort. It was about a half dozen very clean huts right on the beach. There was a/c, electricity, flush toilets and a great restaurant all for $25 a night.

My beach hut

In the village I came across a few boys perfecting there diving skills in a local river

and a man getting ready for a feast roasting a whole pig

One of the days I just relaxed and worked on my photographs. The next day I rented a motorcycle from them and drove around the island. The first thing I came across was a farmer tending his fields.

And we think we work hard....

At one point I took a dirt road deep into the mountains and through the rice paddies. There I found a house here and there, and a small village of maybe six huts and some children enyoying bath time rice paddy style

I love the look on the little girls face...

Still further in the mountains about ten miles back I came across a lake with a number of children escaping the heat

Boy will be boys....

On the way back I passed a number of sugar cane fields

Flashing "sign"

Finally it was time to leave PI and head back to the ship in Singapore. It was an amazing vacation but now it was time to get back to work.

Good Philipipines

After a night in Singapore I joined the ship. During dry dock the ship had been remodeled and it was like joining a completely different ship expect many of my friends were still there.

For a couple weeks we again visited Australia, Vanuatu and Bali. Next we headed to Samoa.

I think Samoa is very under-rated. It was a very beautiful place and very inexpensive.

We then had a very long cruise headed back to Hawaii. Once there as it most had a lot of time off due to many “sea days” and we even had a few overnights. One thing I would say is a must is going skydiving. About ten of us from the spa did this and we all loved it.

Diving with green turtles in Maui

And the next day in Maui driving the "Road to Hana"

Still another waterfall on the "Road to Hana"

Here are a couple waterfalls on Kauai

Kauai Waterfall

Kauai Lagoon

A volcano on the "Big Island" Hawaii

The "Lava Tube"

And a "Must See" with on teh island of Oahu...

The Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor

The "Big Mo"...the battleship Missouri where the Japanese signed the surrender of WWII

Upon leaving Hawaii it was another long cruise back to Seattle, which is our homeport in and out of Alaska.

Our first Alaskan port was Ketchikan. I had been there the summer before and knew of a great place for sushi. After lunch I spotted about a dozen eagles and was able to get some great shots of them as they we feeding. Many times they were literally within 10-100 yards from me.

This was a once in a lifetime experience

This one was so close I could not even fit him in the frame

After that first week we started our regular run for the summer, the first stop being Juneau. Juneau is a place where we stock up as there is a Wal-Mart, Costco and Target.

Approaching Juneau

Once we get what we need we can climb the mountain next to the ship or take a gondola to the stop and hike down. Of course there are a number of bars and restaurants and all the tourist shops.

Overlooking Juneau

Taking the gondala up the mountainwith the ships belo...and hiking down...

You should also stop at Tracy’s Crab Shack for great crab and crab bisque…it is a must.

Downtown Juneau

One week I had a dear friend of mine join me for a cruise and we took an excursion that was not offered by the ship. We started out with a guide kayaking down a river to the ocean. We went to an island for lunch after which we were picked up by a small boat that held 6 people and went whale watching. This in my view was much better then being pack on the “cattle boats” holding 50 people+ and whale watching.

Pamela and I kayak down a river on the way to the ocean in Juneau

Next stop...whale watching

they were everywhere...

A typical August day in Juneau

A trip north of town to the Medicine Wheel...

and the Mendenhall Glacier

Our next port is Skagway.

The channel to Skagway

The ship moors a ten mintue walk from town

The creek at the edge of town is stacked with salmon

Skagway is a very small town but there is a lot to do there.

Downtown Skagway

There is hiking to lakes and trails through the woods.

Hiking one of the many trails in Skagway

Overlooking Skagway

You can take a ship excursion to the Canadian Yukon and to a Salmon Feed for lunch.

Pitch Fork Falls half way between Skagway and the Canadian Yukon

Lake in the Canadian Yukon

Taken from the Swing Bridge in the Canadian Yukon

Bears are also to be seen if you are lucky enough

You can take a helicopter to the top of a glacier and go dogsledding. We found this to be over rated and very expensive, but it maybe something you want to do.

Pamela and I took a helicopter to the top of a glacier

and went dogsledding...

Instead I suggest going for a 90-minute private plane ride to Glacier Bay flying over many waterways and glaciers. It is less then half the cost and for me it was a much better excursion. I enjoyed this with my firends Rachel and Judith

Flying over a glacier bay

Glaciers were everywhere

A lone mountain peak on a glacier field

I also went on a non-ship excursion with about a dozen or more zip lines that took almost all day. This one is less money and more zips then the one offered by the ship.

Rachel and I zip lining in Shagway

Another fun excurison you can line up through the ship is a train ride to the Canadian border.

Passing a waterfall along the way

Another train in fromt of us

About to enter a tunnel

Of course there are other things to do in both Skagway and Juneau but this is how I spent my time.

We also had a sea day that we traveled up the Tracy Arm to the Sawyer Glacier. If you have never seen a glacier up close it is truly amazing. It was a wonderful way to spend my Wednesday mornings EVERY week for the entire summer.

A different then usual view of the Sawyer Glacier

This was our typical view every Wednesday all summer

The view from the upper deck of the Rhapsody

The Tracy Arm on a beautiful summer day

The Tracy Arm on an overcast day

The Sawyer Glacier

Sawyer Island in the left foreground

We also visited Victoria, Canada every week. I like Victoria and there was a lot to do there. They have a great China Town, The Butchart Gardens, the Butterfly Gardens, and the Victoria Hotel, whale watching etc.

The Butterfly Gardens

Flamingo at the The Butterfly Gardens

Near Butchart Gardens

Craigdarroch Castle a 20 minute walk from downtown

My friend Rachel and I enjoy "High Tea" at the Empress Hotel

Well that is it for me. After a summer of Alaska my contract is up and I have left ships…for who knows how long.

I hope you have enjoyed my “Excellent Adventure” as an “Acupuncturist at Sea” and I hope it gave you a good idea of what life at sea is like and what working for Steiner is like. 

Please follow my next adventure in Yosemite National Park. It can be found at AcuDoc Excellent YOSEMITE Adventure.

I have lived in Yosemite thirty-one years ago and left twenty-eight years ago. If you have never been to Yosemite you will see some amazing photographs. I will speak of different hikes I take during my time here and what it is like to live in a national park. In many ways it is like being on board a ship. It is a very small employee community and a lot of tourists. I hope you enjoy it.

Look for the blog to start in the next week or two.

Again thanks to all that followed this blog and for all your questions over the years.

I want to thank all my shipmmates that made these experiences a wonderful part of my life. I miss many very much and some will be life long friends...

Larry - “AcuDoc”